Who Holds Up the Sky?
Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, attacks have continued endlessly in different regions of the country, and ordinary citizens have been forced to pick up arms and fight back. Organized in partnership with the Wartime Art Archive at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) NGO in Kyiv, this exhibition presents the work of artists who have been documenting the war—providing testimony of Russia’s crimes and a glimpse into many Ukrainian citizens’ lives.
Reportage photographs from Vadym Belikov capture Russian missile launches targeting Kharkiv, one of Ukraine’s largest cities. War correspondent Efrem Lukatsky films missiles striking fields where farmers still reap their grain harvests, awaited by trading partners around the world. Yana Kononova documents destruction in the northern region of Kyiv in her series of abstract X-Scapes, and Kostiantyn Polishchuk’s The Night Watch portrays his fellow soldiers on the front lines of the Ukrainian defense. Inga Levi’s graphic series Double exposure juxtaposes news from the warfront with sketches of civilians’ everyday routines.
The exhibition also highlights Behind Blue Eyes, a project started by Dima Zubkov and Artem Skorohodko, volunteers who distribute food and supplies to residents in liberated Ukrainian villages. The pair provided disposable cameras to children and teens in Lukashivka, in the Chernihiv region, asking them to document their lives for a week. Paired with interviews about the children’s dreams and hopes for the future, the resulting images—of family and friends, bombed houses, flowers still blooming amid destruction, and selfies on tanks—capture the many facets of their complex reality. The title of the project, taken from a Limp Bizkit cover of a song by the Who, refers to hiding internal negative emotions, worries, and rage under a completely normal appearance and condition; the color blue signifies the sky.
Together, all of these works create a collective portrait of the wartime experience—paying tribute to those who, in the curators’ words, are “holding up the sky over Ukraine.”
- Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Visitor Center (130.10)